Wednesday, June 13, 2012
How a Football Fan was Born....
Where were you.... When Ray Houghton put the ball in the English net?
That's a question I heard asked recently, just before the Euro 2012 commenced. And it got me thinking.
I remember exactly where I was because that's the day I was converted.
As a show-mad dancing gal, twinkle-toeing my way through a myriad of dance shows and classes, I had absolutely no interest in football at all. None whatsoever. Nada.
I was vaguely aware that Ireland were playing England in the 1988 European Championships that Monday night. See, I knew it was Monday because I had my long-running, all time favourite dance class to attend that night.
I saw no reason not to attend the class as usual, the challenging football match between us and our nearest neighbour, with all it's accompanying *ahem* history, had nothing to do with me at all. Nothing whatsoever. Nada.
So I drove along to class, in blissful oblivion, with thoughts of the previous weeks' dance steps in my head. Nothing was more challenging to me than getting the very complicated dance routine right.
I was very suddenly aware of my surroundings. I was driving through streets empty of other vehicles. Not a human being or even, a dog or cat to be seen on the streets. It was like a ghost town, a willowy tumbleweed whispering by would not have surprised me in the least.
I arrived to find only the dance teacher and four other Dancing Fools in attendance.
What to do, we pondered as we stood there in the cavernous silence of the dance hall that momentous Monday night, with strains of chat and cheers trickling down from the bar above. Well, we did the only thing we could do and cancelled the class.
Two of us found ourselves drawn to the overhead chatter. What is this football hoo-hah all about anyway, we asked as we followed the noise strains up the stairs. We found ourselves in a packed to the rafters small, social club bar. The crowd looked friendly, very friendly, they didn't bite and we came in peace, so we stayed. For a club orange, you understand.
We sat, us two, amongst the maddening crowd who were jumping up and down, shouting at the screen. We figured Ireland was the team dressed in green. The team, we learned that was led by a quirky Englishman who had found lots of Irish grannies that allowed him to entice lots of English footballers to play for Ireland. Against England. Aha.... now we get it!
It didn't take too long before we were up on our feet cheering on The Boys in Green. Didn't matter that we didn't know the rules, we sure learned the lingo real quick. And when Ray Houghton scored that magic goal against England, well we stood on our chairs and Ole Ole'd with the best of them!
Ireland won that game .... and two new fans were born. We were hooked.
Within a week I had bunting outside my house and dressed in green when I went to watch all further Irish football matches in that tournament.
It would be another few years before I would meet and marry football-loving Mr Jazzy. I would even attend real Irish football matches. In a real stadia, with real fans and loud raucous shouting.
And now here we are in Euro 12, down one match and 3 goals. Not a good start.
Time to cheer on The Boys In Green as they face their next match against Spain.
Maybe it's even time to bring back that quirky Englishman. Come on guys....
Put 'em under pressure!!
So, do you remember where you were that night?
Note: Those who were sitting on their mother's knees or were yet to be born may remain silent! Thank you.